5. Reading Skills Comprehension: The habit of reading

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The habit of reading

Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions that follow:

The habit of reading is one of the greatest resources of mankind, and we enjoy reading books that belong to us much more than if they are borrowed. A borrowed book is like a guest in the house; it must be treated with punctiliousness, with a certain considerate formality. You must see that it sustains no damage; it must not suffer while under your roof. You cannot leave it carelessly, you cannot mark it, you cannot turn down the pages, you cannot use it familiarly. And then, someday, although this is seldom done, you really ought to return it.

But your own books belong to you; you treat them with that affectionate intimacy that annihilates formality. Books are for use, not for show; you should own no book that you are afraid to mark up, or afraid to place on the table, wide open and face down. A good reason for marking favourite passages in books is that this practice enables you to remember more easily the significant sayings, to refer to them quickly, and then in later years, it is like visiting a forest where you once blazed a trail. You have the pleasure of going over the old ground, and recalling both the intellectual scenery and your own earlier self.

Everyone should begin collecting a private library in youth; the instinct of private property, which is fundamental in human beings, can here be cultivated with every advantage. One should have one’s own bookshelves, which should not have doors, glass windows, or keys; they should be free and accessible to the hand as well as to the eye. The best of mural decorations are books; they are more varied in ‘colour and appearance’ than any wallpaper, they are more attractive in design, and they have the prime advantage of being separate personalities so that if you sit alone in the room in the firelight, you are surrounded with intimate friends. The knowledge that they are there in plain view is both stimulating and refreshing. You do not have to read them all. Most of my indoor life is spent in a room containing six thousand books, and I have a stock answer to the invariable question that comes from strangers. “Have you read all of these books ?“Some of them twice”. This reply is both true and unexpected.

My devotion to reading has never made me a recluse. How could it be? Books are of the people, by the people, for the people. Literature is the immortal part of history; it is the best and most enduring part of the personality. But book-friends have this advantage over living friends; you can enjoy the most truly aristocratic society in the world whenever you want it. The great dead are beyond our physical reach, and the great living is usually almost the inaccessible; as for our personal friends and acquaintances, we cannot always see them. Perchance they are asleep, or away on a journey. But in a private library, you can at any moment converse with Socrates or Shakespeare or Carlyle or Dumas or Dickens or Shaw or Barrie or Galsworthy.

Complete the following table by filling in the blanks with appropriate answers. Write the correct answers in your answer sheet against the correct blank numbers. (4 marks)

Add two more advantages of our own Books as one is given

1. We treat them with intimacy.

a. ________________________        b.______________________________

Add two more disadvantages of borrowed books as one is given

2.They are mere guests in our house.

a. ________________________          b.______________________________

3.Complete/Answer the following statements/questions:

(a) Borrowed books, like guests, ________________________

(b) Marking favourite passages enables us to

(i) _______________ and (ii) ________________________

(c) When should we have our own library?

(d) The author calls books (1) _______________ and (2) ________________________

3. Find words from the passage which mean the same as the following from the paragraphs Indicated. Write the answers in your answer sheet against the correct blank number: (2 marks)

(a) extreme carefulness to behave correctly (Para 1)

(b) destroys completely (Para 2)


1. (a) We can mark favourite passages.

(b) We can place them in any way and at any place.

2 (a)We have to treat them very carefully.

(b) We cannot mark any line or passage.

3.(a) go back to their places.

(b) (i) remember the significant sayings more easily

(ii) refer to them quickly.

(c) We should have our own library in youth.

(d) (i) mural decorations                    (ii) friends.

3. (a) punctiliousness                           (b) annihilates

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